Abercrombie Hopes Third-Party Vendors are the Answer to Their Woes

Abercrombie is working to revive their brand by looking outside the company box. The retailer announced it's considering bringing in third-party products and becoming a wholesaler to other retailers.

Fashionista reported that during the brand’s earnings call this week, CEO Michael Jeffries announced the plan as a way to move the company into a more stable position by building on past successes, like the recent collaboration with Keds and Abercrombie division Hollister.

“We have a long list of additional collaborations in the works, across footwear, apparel and accessories, which we are excited to launch in the coming months,” Jeffries said.

Abercrombie has seen its sales slumping in the last few years as it has struggled to maintain its market relevance. Analysts blame fast fashion brands and social media for the downturn. The rise of the Instagram selfie has created a need in the younger set to express their individual style — and that's just not the brand pedals.

Chains like H&M, Zara, and TJMaxx are perfectly designed for this new teen shopper, with their high-end knock offs and low prices. Logo fashion stores like Abercrombie, Aeropostale, and American Eagle are too one-note for kids' taste — and their prices are way too high.

But will a foray into third-party collabs be a step in the right direction for the retailer, or will it continue to turn their target customer off as they high tail it over to Forever21?

For the short term, this strategy could work. Abercrombie could test new products with a lot less risk, build their following through partner campaigns, and use the additional promotion platform collaborations provide to get the public excited about upcoming plans.

The problem with the brand placing all their hopes in the third-party basket is they risk never addressing the real issue at hand — that their brand DNA no longer meshes with young consumers in a world where brand loyalty waxes and wanes blog post to blog post.

Collaborations and third-party vendors should be the supplement to already robust retail activity. No matter how many Keds shoes they sell on Hollisterco.com, their target customers will still be turned off by $40 logo shirts and tattered pants in 10 different shades of khaki. They must completely rework the aesthetic of the brand itself or expect those curious new customers roaming in from elsewhere to walk right back out.